Spurs misery in Madrid as Liverpool claim European crown
Frustration as Jurgen Klopp's under-par team seal win
02 June, 2019 — By Dan Carrier in Madrid
UEFA Champions League Final
Tottenham Hotspur 0
LIVERPOOL 2 (Salah 1p, Origi 86)
TOTTENHAM’S attempts to be crowned champions of Europe came to a cruel, cruel end tonight (Saturday) as Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners in a strangely disjointed final in Madrid.
Whatever Mauricio Pochettino’s game plan was, it was ripped in half after the first 30 seconds when referee Damir Skomina awarded Liverpool a penalty – and it meant Jurgen Klopp’s side spent 90 minutes sitting back and letting Spurs huff and puff to force the issue.
For two sides who have produced some thrilling displays in Europe this season, it was a game that failed to ignite, and neither teams big names truly got going.
Speaking after the game, Spurs manager Pochettino said despite suffering defeat, he was proud of what his players had achieved.
“We are very disappointed,” he said. “I am disappointed for the club, the fans and the players. It was a final that we felt we could win.”
He accepted that the nightmare start had made the game plan they had worked on hard to implement.
He added: “To concede a penalty so early was a massive blow. But the team was great. It was difficult from the start, but I felt we dominated the game. We tried, and we created chances, but could not score. It is so painful – but we do feel proud of what we have achieved this season.”
And he said his players should take heart from getting to the final.
He said: “We got to the final for the first time in the history of the club. Yes, it is painful, but we need to be positive.”
And what a fantastically cruel start it was.
Before Spurs had touched the ball, Liverpool were a goal up. The Reds first attack saw Sadio Mane try to dink a pass square, and as the ball sat up, it was judged to have struck Moussa Sissoko on the arm.
The referee had no hesitation as he pointed to the spot. Mo Salah blasted the penalty home, straight down the middle of Hugo Lloris’s goal.
Replays were hardly conclusive – the ball struck Sissoko at close range, and it could be argued it hit his chest – but despite the Spurs players’ appeal for the referee to look at VAR, he was content he had made the right decision and Tottenham had got off to unimaginably bad start.
Such fortunes for Liverpool did not, however, give them the impetus to put on a show. Instead they sat back, content to let Spurs sap their strength as they tried to up the tempo in 30 degree heat.
As they chased a way back in to the game, Spurs enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but failed to carve any genuine opportunities. Christian Eriksen blasted a drive over but it was speculative rather than anything more, and Dele Alli, who was quiet for much of the opening 45, over hit two passes when Heung Min Son was primed to get behind the Liverpool defence.
The second half, played out at a pace that reflected the humidity, continued with a litany of unforced errors from both sides.
Spurs, knowing the onus was on them, did what they could.
As the game settled into Spurs attacking and Liverpool soaking up comfortably, Son forced Alisson into a good sprawling save, and then substitute Lucas Moura drove an effort that the keeper got behind well.
Danny Rose thought he had won a penalty when he was taken out as he bore down on goal – but the referee judged it to be outside the box. The resulting free kick by Eriksen saw Alisson make an athletic save, but it was struck a good height for the keeper to get to.
As the minutes ticked away and Spurs looked to pepper the Liverpool goal with all they had left, Liverpool scored the killer.
Spurs committed players forward, and failed to deal with a speculative cross, conceding a corner. Tired legs meant the danger wasn’t dealt with properly, and substitute Divock Origi finished from the angle.
Spurs will look back on their spectacular run to the final as a grand experience – but when they consider the final, there will be a sense of regret.
Liverpool, for all their wonderful performances this season, failed to show up tonight yet still came out on top.
Spurs failed to find the necessary quality to capitalise on their opponents oddly subdued showing in the final of the world’s biggest club competition.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: Lloris, Trippier, Rose, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Son, Winks (Moura, 65) Kane, Sissoko (Dier, 73) Alli (Llorente 81) Eriksen.
Subs not used: Vorm, Sanchez, Lamela, Wanyama, Walker-Peters, Foyth, Gazzaniga, Aurier, Davies.
LIVERPOOL: Becker, Fabinho, Van Dijk, Wijnaldrum (Milner, 62) Firmino (Origi, 57) Mane (Gomez, 87) Salah, Henderson, Robertson, Matip, Alexander-Arnold.
Subs not used: Mignolet, Lovren, Sturridge, Moreno, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaqiri, Brewster, Kelleher.